Mercury (Hobart)

AGONISING ELIMINATIO­N SHOULD HELP HARDEN US UP, SAYS FAGAN

- CHRIS HONNERY

LIONS coach Chris Fagan is confident the heartbreak­ing one-point loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday night will strengthen the pack to better handle big-game clashes in the future.

Brisbane fell just short of this year’s preliminar­y finals after bowing out of finals contention at the Gabba in a demoralisi­ng 11.13 (79) to 11.12 (78) defeat to the Bulldogs.

It was the Lions’ fifth finals loss in three years and the second time they’ve been beaten in a semi-final by the narrowest of margins, but Fagan said it would help the club improve next season.

“We’re all flat,” Fagan said after the match. “We put in a good contest tonight and to not come away with the points is disappoint­ing for us.

“It will harden us going forward. All these things, in the end, help you and make sure you take the lessons out of the result and figure out what you could have done better on the night.

“To lose a close one tonight, after losing a close one by three points two years ago … it eats away at us a little bit and makes us better in the future.”

The Lions lost forward Jack Payne early in the game to a nasty head gash, which will require facial surgery, after it proved too big for stitches after the game.

The rest of the club is in lockdown until Tuesday, as it continues to recover from the loss. When asked what he thought of the club’s finals record in the past three years – one win and five losses – Fagan said the players were “a whisker away” from being in three consecutiv­e preliminar­y finals.

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